Jurors heard the first remarks Monday in the trial for former NFL player Kellen Winslow Jr., who is accused of sexually assaulting or raping five women, including an unconscious 17-year-old girl in 2003.
In opening statements, prosecutor Dan Owens said the evidence is clear that Winslow committed the acts he's accused of. Instead, the prosecution will argue the severity of the acts to prove Winslow did rape three women and commit lewd acts against two others.
The trial is "not a question of whether or not he was the person involved in these crimes but of what the crimes were," Owens said.
Defense Attorney Brian Watkins argued a similar point; he did not argue that Winslow did not commit the acts he's accused of but instead argued that the acts were consensual and overexaggerated by the victims because of Winslow's status.
Winslow "has been in the spotlight since he was young and when you're in the spotlight when you're young, that’s very difficult," Watkins said. "One of the key things here is, when you’re in the spotlight people want things from you."
Winslow, 35, pleaded not guilty to 12 charges including six counts of rape, one count of kidnapping and allegations of lewd conduct and indecent exposure. He could face life in prison if convicted.
The former tight-end is accused of sexual assault against five women, four of which allegedly occurred over several months in 2018 just miles from his home in Encinitas.
"Kellen Winslow took what he wanted; he took what he wanted not from one, not from two, but from three women. He victimized five separate women," Owens said in his opening remarks.
Owens said evidence includes GPS locations showing the defendant's presence where victims say they encountered him and DNA tests showing traces of his semen on blood-stained pants from one victim.
Winslow, the son of Hall of Famer and former San Diego Chargers great Kellen Winslow Sr., who was present on Monday, has described the allegations as "a money grab."
Winslow was arrested on June 7, 2018, on burglary charges after he entered a senior community in Encinitas. Law enforcement later said Winslow intended to rape an 86-year-old woman who was sleeping inside her home.
Authorities also said they found evidence to tie Winslow to the break-in of a 71-year-old woman a week prior.
After posting bail, Winslow was re-arrested on allegations that he kidnapped and raped a 54-year-old female on March 17, 2018, and that he raped a 59-year-old female on May 13, 2018.
Winslow's attorney argued on Monday that the women knew who Winslow was and gave different information to police when questioned a second time.
The 59-year-old woman said she was picked up on Vulcan Avenue by a man in an SUV and raped along Manchester Avenue, according to a San Diego County sheriff's detective.
The same month, a 57-year-old accused Winslow of exposing himself while she was gardening at a residence on Lake Drive.
Another woman then accused the athlete, who was 19 at the time and a student at the University of Miami, of attacking and raping her in a townhome on June 20, 2003, while she was a 17-year-old Escondido High School student.
Then, while the former NFL player was out on $2 million bail, a 77-year-old woman accused him of exposing his penis and masturbating in a hot tub at a Carlsbad gym.
The man asked “if she saw (his penis) and if she liked that,” law enforcement authorities said.
Winslow has remained in jail since with no bail option.
Winslow grew up in San Diego and graduated from Scripps Ranch High School before playing his college football at the University of Miami, where he had 469 catches for 5,236 yards and 25 touchdowns in 105 games.
Drafted No. 6 overall by Cleveland, he broke his right leg in his rookie season, then sustained a serious right knee injury in a motorcycle accident that offseason.
From 2004 to 2013, he played for Cleveland, Tampa Bay, New England and the New York Jets.
He was suspended in 2013 with the Jets for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy.
That same year, he was arrested after a woman told police she saw him masturbating in a parked car outside of a New Jersey department store.
Winslow was arrested for possession of synthetic marijuana, and the charge was dropped after he completed court-ordered terms.